May 30, 2022 (11:21 PM)

5 min read


Graphic by Jeni Anne Rosario.

Opposing the lifting of the 12-year open-pit mining ban in Tampakan, South Cotabato, Ecoteneo, Mindanawon, and the Tropical Institute of Climate Studies (TropICS) released a joint statement, calling individuals to save humanity and ecology as the environment faces a climate emergency.

The groups emphasized that when open-pit mining begins, biodiversity ends, explaining that disruption of ecosystems can lead to disease and threats to public health and ecological breakdown. Open-pit mining will also leave Mindanao and its people more vulnerable to landslides, flooding, and drought, among other impacts of climate change.

Although the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) indicated that it would ensure that Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) met its environmental protection and rehabilitation obligations, Ecoteneo Student Unit Director Marianne Magsigay believes that this action will not mitigate the negative impacts of open-pit mining.

“The open-pit mining operation would cause over 800,000 trees to be cut down. Even our water streams would be affected despite having the policy because the operation would unavoidably release toxins that would be able to pass through our water streams or can sip in through the lands and would affect our water streams underground,” she said.

The mining project over Tampakan, located within the headwaters of several catchments, will compromise water both in volume and quality, affecting local farmers/irrigators in growing food the Filipinos need, according to the joint statement.

Magsigay emphasized that the incoming administration should be well-informed of the country’s situation and the people’s need to appropriately produce substantive actions.

“The administration must also use the power of knowledge to make the people informed and aware of our issues to encourage them to take part in the development of our country. As one country, we must also be one in helping out to prosper,” she added.

The incumbent Ecoteneo director also expects the Marcos-Duterte administration to create more laws and policies specifically on environment, agriculture, trade, and development cooperation to avoid compromising the country’s environment and resources. She further stressed building organizations and positioning competent leaders to actualize the country’s sustainable development plan. 

Environmental Science Community (EnviCo) President Francis Rene Rodrigo, who opposes open-pit mining, assured their club would create publicity materials and webinars and partner with various environmental organizations, such as Ecoteneo, and participate in their activities to ensure that the voice of the environment is heard. 

“It is us who must fight for the environment, despite the challenges we will face, we won’t back down unless the people realize the dangers of open-pit mining not only on the environment but also towards society,” he shared.

EnviCo Vice President Ralph Brian Miase also encouraged everyone to continue persuading individuals to motivate their family and friends to connect with environmental organizations, understand and protect the environment, and keep up political pressure to retain the ban.

Recently, University President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, released a statement in response to the lifting of South Cotabato’s open-pit mining ban, calling it “an ordinance passed in treachery.”

“I say treacherous act because the ordinance was passed with practically no public notice and with indecent swiftness in the immediate aftermath of the elections. It denied the minority the opportunity to register its approval,” Tabora said.

The university president presented reasons for his opposition to the ordinance, such as the damage it will cause to the environment and the people and the lies being propagated by mining companies in a shifty national season of lies.

Tabora further wrote that his opposition was based on the Catholic Social teaching of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si, saying, “We are called to be guardians of our common home—created by God for the people and biodiverse flora and fauna of Mindanao.”

Massive public clamor against the project

On Tuesday, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of General Santos City unanimously passed a resolution entitled “Resolution Expressing Opposition to Open-Pit Mining in Tampakan, South Cotabato” in its regular session. 

“The Sangguniang Panlungsod of General Santos City strongly calls for sustainable and responsible mining where the Philippines may generate wealth without degrading the environment and without compromising the health and safety of its people, thus preserving the environment for the benefit of the next generation,” it said.

The resolution further stated that the plethora of scientific studies reveal that the destructive effects on the environment brought by open-pit mining are of considerable magnitude, which cannot be simply overlooked by the state.

“While the mining industry is vital to the economy, the economic benefits of open-pit mining cannot outweigh its long-term degrading impact on the environment,” the resolution read.

Residents from South Cotabato and neighboring towns held a solidarity march on May 19, appealing to Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. to veto the proposed lifting of the ban.

Tamayo can still reverse the provincial board’s decision by vetoing it; however, it will pass into law if he signs the decision or fails to take any action within 15 days after the government’s office officially obtains the resolution.

End the silence of the gagged!

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